Fresh Italian Eatery
Village by the Grange was meant to be a nexus for the working class folks from the area at its inception and it’s remained somewhat true to its roots. We saw professors, a policeman, and many others brought together by The Fresh Italian Eatery. The village attracts a diverse crowd: students and seniors during the day, and more working class folks in the evening.
Our interest for that evening was located in a transitional space, both: in terms of its location closer to the edge of the court, and as a business with a higher price point, compared to other larger chains and restaurants focused on the students. The first visual noticed, when passing by, was a large standee, detailing a brief history and several highlights. It was educational and clean, although, maybe missing an opportunity to capture more attention.
We were invited by the Kim family, who took over Fresh Italian Eatery (originally established in 2012) a couple of years ago and kept most of the business untouched. The business is run by hard-working ladies who genuinely care about the quality and experience.
To start off, we asked for the most popular and authentic items to try, while visitors pick from the numerous options on their digital menus, including soups, salads, paninis.
The Nona (grandmother) Plate is perfect for those of us, who don’t know what to pick but are food-curious. A combination of numerous salads, meats, and pastas sectioned in a bowl. We highly recommend the pulled chicken as a choice for meat - it came topped with homemade basil and some garlic aioli. It just melted in our mouths. We also enjoyed the tomato-paste peas,a simple and refreshing side, and the baked potatoes.
By far, our favourite dish was the Classic Lasagna. Beware that this is a hearty dish with lots of beef and a load of mouth-watering pasta layers, soft in the middle and crispy on the top. It was a bit savoury, but just perfect overall. Made us think that this is exactly the dish that an Italian Nona would use to fatten up her skinny grandkids.
Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich was another popular choice we had to try. It was definitely meant for carb lovers, with the thinly-sliced eggplant generously breaded and served on a bun. Our favorite part was how the bun was nicely soaked in tomato sauce.
We also had a side of Italian Spice Hot sauce as we opted for mild on most options. It helped bring out some more energy and passion to the dishes with red hot peppers and jalapeños. Furthermore, it was made by Mrs. Kim herself and added a Korean twist to our experience.
Village by the Grange has character and not all of it is pleasant...Some spots are dingy, others are simply corporate generics - McD's, Popeye's… Fresh Italian Eatery stands out - it is reasonably priced for the quality of its wholesome dishes. Support a family- owned and operated business when passing by, you will not regret it!
PS: our host Shilbee mentioned that, if one is to look deep enough, there is a fair amount of similarity between Korean and Italian food. Maybe that's the reason everything was so refreshing here - there was an interesting connection to build upon.